Miller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between
Toronto – March 16, 2015
Is there such a thing as being too efficient?
I was traveling yesterday with my family for March break. Pearson airport in Toronto has started a new process for having passengers go through U.S. Customs. Once you check in for your flight, you are asked to walk to the far end of the airport and to go to what can be best described as a corral or a pen. You wait there in slight chaos with thousands of other passengers strewn all over the place, until they call your departure time. You all share your lack of understanding about what is going on because you really appear to have no control over the situation.
Once your departure time is called, you then walk back the length of the airport to wait in line to clear U.S. Customs. The intent of this system, of course, is to reduce the time people spend standing around and waiting in line, and to balance the number of people waiting in the U.S. Customs area. Both of these objectives make sense, until the system doesn’t work.
I have traveled hundreds of times, at the busiest times of the year, in some of the busiest airports around the world, and I have never missed a flight. Yesterday, my streak was almost broken. We did not even enter the U.S. Customs area until 10 minutes before our flight was scheduled to board, despite arriving more than two hours before our scheduled departure time. We still had to drop off our luggage, go through security and get to the gate. We did make it, but we were literally the last ones to board the plane.
A system is only good when it works, and this one didn’t. Disney has mastered the art of distracting you while you wait in line. You don’t actually get frustrated because they make you feel like you are constantly making progress towards your goal – being at the front of the line.
The GTAA has created a system that actually provides more anxiety than the previous one, because now you have to wait more often and are farther away from your destination.
The concept of having a staging area to reduce the number of passengers waiting in the U.S. Customs area logically makes sense, but without the right system in place and the right communication, it actually makes things worse.
Are your systems and processes improving the situation for customers, or making it worse?
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